It’s a simple dish to prepare and can be done ahead if desired. If you poach the salmon ahead of time, wrap the salmon fillets tightly in plastic wrap so they don’t dry out. The cucumber sauce can also be made ahead of time as long as you squeeze all the water from the cucumbers.
I use salmon fillets for this cold poached salmon as salmon steaks, which are wonderful and often the first choice for this recipe by some, require removing pin bones, a task that is tedious. If you buy your fillets and they have the skin on, remove it after poaching and cooling. It will simply peel off. Remove any of the brown fatty tissue under it.
Roasted Asparagus Potato Salad with Lemon Basil Vinaigrette is a notable addition to any potato salad collection. Crisp asparagus is the perfect foil for lemon and basil. Potatoes are great anyway they’re made.
When cooking the potatoes, cover them with several inches of water, bring to a boil, reduce to a very low boil immediately and cook until they a tester goes in easily but they are not mushy. If they are boiled too hard the skins split and they break apart. Cool them and then cut. New or “B” potatoes are simply little red potatoes. They are not a different potato, they simply harvest them early. I like them when I am using an unpeeled potato as the skins are more tender. However, regular size red potatoes can be substituted.
Red potatoes are more waxy than white which makes them hold together after cooking better. When cut, they stay together. White potatoes are a fluffier potato when cooked or baked, think mashed potatoes, French fries and baked potatoes. All of them require a fluffy baked or cooked finish product.
For roasting asparagus, I prefer the standard size. See Asparagus. The asparagus is coated with olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted for 10 minutes at 350 degrees. It will maintain a bright green color and still have crunch, the perfect combination. We used to make it this way at the shop and people would marvel at it. Unfortunately half of them never believed this is all we did. They were sure we had a secret we weren’t sharing.
The original recipe I developed for this used a Lemon Basil Mayonnaise which I absolutely love. But because this is to accompany poached salmon which is dressed with a creamy sauce, I didn’t want two creamy sauces on the plate so I turned it into a vinaigrette. Fresh basil and lemon rind are key to this dressing.
Lastly, be sure to serve this at room temperature for maximum enjoyment.
2 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups white wine
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
1 stalk celery with leaves, coarsely chopped
2 medium carrots, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons salt
1 bay leaf
4 sprigs parsley
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon white peppercorns
4 6 ounce salmon fillets
With a slotted spoon or a spider, remove the vegetables and herbs.If the fillets have “tails”, tuck them under to make them as much the same size as possible. Keeping the court bouillon at a bare simmer, add the fillets. Poach the salmon for 8 to 10 minutes. They should be opaque and the fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.
1 medium cucumber
1/ 2 cup sour cream (light is fine)
1 tablespoon white vinegar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon dill, dried
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
Peel the cucumber. Cut it in half. Seed it by scraping out the seeds with a spoon, preferably a serrated spoon that is used for grapefruit. Shred the cucumber on a box grater with the largest shredder.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Set aside.
Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover with several inches of water. Bring the water to a low boil. Cook the potatoes until just tender. Do not boil hard and do not overcook. Remove from the water and cool. Cut into bite size pieces.
Trim the bottoms of the asparagus. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Pour the oil over the asparagus. Mix to coat the spears with oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove. Cool. Cut the asparagus into bite size pieces.
Lemon Basil Vinaigrette
1 small clove garlic
1/4 cup packed basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
Zest of one lemon
1/3 cup lemon juice
3/4 cup vegetable oil
In the meantime, drop the garlic down the feedtube of a processor while it is running. Scrape down to make sure it is finely minced. Add the basil (make sure it is dry if it has been washed) and process to finely cut it. Scrape the processor down and process several times to mince really finely.
Add all of the remaining ingredients except the vegetable oil. Process briefly. With the machine running, slowly pour the oil down the feedtube. This can be made several days ahead and stored in the refrigerator.
Combine the potatoes and asparagus. Add about half of the dressing, stirring carefully. Add as much dressing as desired. If making ahead, reserve some of the dressing for when you serve the salad.
This is best served at room temperature.